For the first Collegian Alumni Interest Group (AIG) virtual roundtable of the fall, a Collegian news editor interviewed two published authors who are Collegian alums, one of whom was an assistant sports editor and the other an editor-in-chief.

The authors, Alecia Swasy and Rick Weber, offered tips on how to write a book, how to get it published and how to survive and thrive as a professional writer.

They spoke over Zoom to Megan Swift, a Collegian news editor who is a sophomore studying digital and print journalism.

Swasy, author of “Soap Opera: The Inside story of Procter & Gamble” and “Changing Focus: Kodak and the Battle to Save a Great American Company,” said she didn’t have a goal of writing books but realized while covering Procter & Gamble for the Wall Street Journal that she had in her notebooks the makings of a book.

Weber, author of “Pink Lips and Fingertips,” and contributor to four “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books, said he set a goal of writing a book by the age of 50. He wrote his first while working full-time as a sports writer.

Weber, who now works as a technical writer for Gartner, said his time on the Collegian sports staff, “game me the hands on experience that got my career going.”

Swasy, who now is the Donald W. Reynolds Professor of Business Journalism at Washington and Lee University, told the Collegian staff members on the Zoom call that to write a book, “you really have to be in love with the story” because the writer will be with it for a long time, and “some days it is an ugly beast.” On the other hand, she said, “There is no greater rush than when you do it and they send you the galleys.”

Weber, who spent three years working in Australia and traveling the world, advised that anyone who wants to write a book while working full-time should block out time to do it. “You really have to be passionate to write a book,” he said.

To watch the full roundtable discussion, click here.


Barbara Stack

Barbara Stack

I started my journalism career at The Daily Collegian, where I covered cops, "radicals and minorities," and served as editorial page editor. After graduation, I worked as a reporter and feature writer for two community papers, The Tribune-Review and the Beaver County Times, before being hired by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I worked for the Post-Gazette for 27 years as a reporter, assistant city editor and editorial page writer. For a decade I covered issues regarding children and families, and a series of stories I wrote, along with a court case I persuaded the Post-Gazette to pursue, led to an order opening to the press and public dependency hearings in Pennsylvania juvenile court. In 2007, I began working as a blog writer for the United Steelworkers Union, composing blogs and op-eds that were published in the name of the union's international president. I am now retired and working as a consultant for The Pittsburgh Foundation's communications department.

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